Tag Archives: fairy tale retelling

A Giant Murder Review and GIVEAWAY!

About the Book

Book: A Giant Murder

Author: Marji Laine

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: August 3, 2021

Would you like a shot of… death with that, sir?

Josephine Jacobs was just doing her job, serving at an exclusive party, so why is she now being accused of shooting TG Taggert?

At a party full of suspects in the murder of Taggert, Josie served the food giant everything but an eternally “parting shot.” Who really killed TG Taggert? His wife? His son, Jack? What about Harper Davis? Rumor has it, she was having an affair with him—motive for her or Taggert’s wife! The list of those who seemed to hate him keeps growing, including a chemist and a chef!

With her long-time friend, Office Porter O’Brien, Josie sets out to find out who really killed “the giant,” and clear her name.

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. A Giant Murder offers a retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with enough clues and suspects to keep you looking over your shoulder. We’d recommend Kevlar… but it hasn’t been invented yet!

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

Marji Laine is a graduated home-schooling mom of four with two college students staying in the nest for a little longer. She and her hubby of 34 years also share their North Texas home with a rescue pup named Rosie. When Marji isn’t editing or publishing the books for her authors at Write Integrity Press, she indulges in penning her own mystery, suspense, and romance novels. She loves acting in musical comedy, has directed many stage productions, leads a high school Bible study and sings in her church choir. She prefers mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, NASCAR to football, Magnolia pie, white roses, green, and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. You can find her at her website: MarjiLaine.com

More from Marji

I so enjoyed researching the history of downtown Dallas as I crafted my story, A GIANT MURDER. The house that I chose for Josie and her mom is actually still there on Haskell Avenue. The photo with the wrought iron is about twenty years old, but the house was built circa 1914. The photo with the wooden fence is from last year, after a big remodel. This house was also the setting of another of my books. It and the field that used to be next to it was an after-school child care center in AIN’T MISBEHAVING.

Thinking about what life might have been like in this house in the twenties, I can’t
help but think about my grandparents. They were teenagers at the time of my story – 1926 – and while my grandfather grew up in, what was then, a little farming town called Paris, Texas, my grandmother grew up in Oak Cliff, just across the bridge over the Trinity River from this house in downtown Dallas.

Makes the research that I did on this era even that much more special. Having come through COVID, I realize that my great-grandparents had to nurture their preteens and teenagers through the Spanish Flu that devastated whole communities. The more things change, the more they stay the same?

All of this reminiscing sent me to an old recipe book that had been a wedding present for me from my mom almost thirty-five years ago. In the dessert section near the back, I found a precious recipe for Date Candy that had come by way of my great-grandmother, Carrie Ethel Leatherwood Morin. I never met her, but I do remember hearing from my mom that she was a woman of faith, and I have a poem she wrote late in life, about growing up in the country.

I would say this is a 1920s recipe, but who could tell? She was a middle-aged mom at that point, so it’s a good bet.

Date Candy

1 box – light brown sugar

4 T – corn syrup

½ pt – whipping cream

1 cup – dates

1 cup – pecans

1 t – vanilla

Mix sugar, syrup, and cream. Cook until almost a hard ball. Just before removing from pan, put in dates and stir until they melt. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Beat until almost hard – then add pecans. Wet a cup towel. Pour mixture onto cup towel and roll into a roll. Let it cool – firm – then slice.

Let me know if you decide to make my great-grandmother’s candy. I’d love to find out how it turned out!

My Review

Read my review in the September issue of #BecauseFiction magazine at https://www.becausefiction.com/posts/a-giant-murder-editorial-review-by-sarah-snider/.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 17

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 18

For the Love of Literature, September 18

Inklings and notions, September 19

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, September 19 (Author Interview)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 20

For Him and My Family, September 20

deb’s Book Review, September 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 22

A Reader’s Brain, September 23

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 23

Connie’s History Classroom, September 24

Simple Harvest Reads, September 24 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 25

Mary Hake, September 25

Rebecca Tews, September 26

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 27

Connect in Fiction, September 28

Bigreadersite, September 28

Through the fire blogs, September 29

Blogging With Carol, September 30

Back Porch Reads, September 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/119f5/a-giant-murder-celebration-tour-giveaway

The Last Gasp Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: The Last Gasp

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: July 6, 2021

At the pinnacle of his Hollywood career, Garrison Prince’s reign ends tonight.

As plain old Gary Prinz, he can pursue his Bible education, buy a bungalow in Pasadena, acquire a few chickens, and marry the girl of his dreams. He just never imagined trading the silver screen for a pulpit would wreak such havoc.

A cigarillo girl, Lucinda Ashton spends her days with her boyfriend, Gary, and her evenings selling candy and “gaspers” to the Hollywood elite at the Taj Mahal Theater.

However, when gunshots ring out just as intermission begins, Lucinda finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a brouhaha that leaves three dead, and no one has a clue why.

All the police know is that the evidence points to Lucinda as the killer and Gary as the intended target.

Four new friends, one young orphan, and a potluck of clues that don’t seem to fit anywhere leave the police baffled, Lucinda in fear for her freedom, and Gary ready to trade in his acting shoes for gumshoes if it’ll save his “Cinda.”

The first book in the Ever After Mysteries combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries, The Last Gasp. This Cinderella retelling blends a murder with enough crime and story clues to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

What Beautiful, Unexpected Parallel Did I Find Writing this Mystery?

I bought it at Pic-n-Save when I was eleven—an 8.5×11 paperback book of traditional fairy tales. I learned another side of the age-old stories that you don’t see from Disney. Rapunzel? Yeah. That was the story about the queen who was craving rampion (a salad vegetable) so much that she promised to give up her child for it. Rampion—Rapunzel. It’s a thing.

It’s also where I learned Cinderella’s name as “Aschenputtel.” Look, those Brothers Grimm were… well, they were German and that should explain everything. “Puttel” just sings of German, doesn’t it? That tale was also a bit gruesome. The one sister cut off her big toe to make the shoe fit because her mother said, “You won’t have to walk anywhere if you’re a queen. Who needs it!” So the idiotic girl did. Same for the other sister and her heel. Seriously, didn’t she learn from her older sister?

Oh, and it’s the one where mother and stepsisters get their eyes picked out by birds. It reminded me of Proverbs 30:17. “The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.”

Talk about bringing Scripture to life for kids there. *Gulp*

True confession, our kids used to sing that verse to the tune of “All Hail the Pow’r of Jesus’ Name.” You should have heard the lusty voices of our children in our Grand Marquis station wagon (may the wonderful beast rest in peace) singing, “The ravens shall pick out his eyes and eeee-agles eeee-eeaat the saaaammmme!”

I digress.

Cinderella—I mean, Aschenputtel—really wasn’t my favorite story, though. I liked other stories from other books. Like the Ten Brothers—a Chinese folk tale. You know. Fairy tale.

Know which fairy tale I liked even less than Cinderella?

The Little Mermaid. Seriously, I didn’t like the original (Sorry Mr. Andersen… I just didn’t), and I can’t stand Disney’s. But when we first began planning the Ever After Mysteries, I knew which one I wanted to do. The Little Mermaid had everything going for it. Houdini and a water tank. Can’t you just see it? It would have been great. But a friend asked who was writing about the “cigarillo girl” (as I mention in THIS post), and well… the rest is history. Or at least, it’s set back in history.

But there’s one truth I discovered as I wrote this mystery.

Mystery… that’s a good word for this truth, actually. Cinderella is a beautiful picture of Jesus as our prince. We can be His bride and put on the shoe He has fashioned only to fit us, or we can try to snatch it up and make it suit our wills and hold our overgrown egos (work with me here). He takes us out of our ragged, dirty lives and brings us home… to Him. To His Father.

Is there anything more beautiful? I don’t think so.

In The Last Gasp, Gary knows Cinda long before she knows him—truly knows him. He loves her just as she is. Is it a perfect retelling of the beauty of Christ’s love for his church? Not hardly. It wasn’t intended to demonstrate that relationship at all. But there are tiny nuances that do. And that’s pretty cool.

My Review

As a child, I was never really enamored with princesses and fairy tales the way that other girls were. Romance just isn’t my cup of tea. Unless, of course, the subject is Belle: secluded castle, grand library with a sliding book ladder…but I digress. With the exception of wearing a rather glitzy Cinderella dress for my first piano recital in second grade (a harbinger, perhaps, since I quit a few years later), I have been staunchly in the pioneer, historical-fiction camp. I do, however, love mysteries, and that is what caught my eye with Celebrate Lit’s new series, “Ever After Mysteries.” Intrigued by the amalgamation of fairy tale adaption, historical fiction, and mystery, I had to check it out.

Chautona Havig kicks off the Ever After Mysteries with The Last Gasp, a 1920s adaptation of Cinderella. I know little about this time period, particularly in regard to theater and film, which made it fun to read about. The main character, Lucinda “Cinda” Ashton, works as a cigarillo girl, selling candy and cigarettes at the Taj Mahal Theater, until a night of chaos and murder points to her as the prime suspect. Her boyfriend, Gary Prinz, a charming little orphan boy named Herbie, and a cast of others band together to figure out who is behind the curtain of this crime spree.

Humor adds just enough lightheartedness to bring a smile to readers without detracting from the mystery, and the literary nods that Havig includes amuse those who look for them. I noticed, for instance, an homage to Snoopy early on in the narrative. The names used in The Last Gasp are, of course, very apropos, and several other parallels between the famous story that most know and cherish pop up throughout the narrative. Because of the combination of romantic and alarming elements, The Last Gasp does seem like an admirable merging of the Disney and Brothers Grimm versions! For anyone with concerns, however, this adaptation is clean and does not contain graphic details beyond a few brief mentions of blood.

There were times when the story execution reminded me of the movie Clue due to the wit and comical nature of some of the scenes, but there is also a deep undercurrent of faith and love. My favorite scene is when Gary witnesses to a wondering Mrs. Cohen, explaining “As for my reward, I have it already—salvation. I know it isn’t the done thing to talk about in society, but you asked. Some men are eager to share how to receive the Lord’s gift. I wish to teach those who already have it how to live in a way that reflects their gratitude for it.” To me, this speaks to the ultimate message of The Last Gasp: jealousy never cultivates contentment, and no matter how much or how little anyone has here on earth, the greatest possession of all is a relationship not with Prince Charming, but with King Jesus.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Rebecca Tews, August 2

For Him and My Family, August 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 3

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, August 3 (Author Interview)

Lots of Helpers, August 4

Inklings and notions, August 4

deb’s Book Review, August 5

CarpeDiem, August 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 6

Connect in Fiction, August 6

Texas Book-aholic, August 7

Blogging With Carol, August 7

She Lives To Read, August 8

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 8

Connie’s History Classroom, August 9

Simple Harvest Reads, August 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 10

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 10

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 11

The Meanderings of a Bookworm , August 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 12

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 12

Splashes of Joy, August 13

Mary Hake, August 13

For the Love of Literature, August 14

Back Porch Reads, August 14

Through the Fire Blogs, August 15

Mamma loves books, August 15

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of copy of the book and a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11420/the-last-gasp-celebration-tour-giveaway